Immune cells could shed light on outcomes in patients who undergo surgeries to open up diseased blood vessels. According to a publication in Thrombosis Research, scientists counted infection-fighting cells called eosinophils to predict the risk of death after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) or coronary angioplasty.
The researchers, from City Hospital, Birmingham, in the U.K., looked at a series of 509 patients with coronary artery disease who were undergoing PCI, and measured their levels of eosinophils before PCI, and then after 6 months. Over four and a half years, just more than 15% of patients died. The researchers found that high eosinophils before the procedure suggested a better outcome, but high levels after 6 months doubled the risk of death.
According to MedWire News, the researchers reported that: "Eosinophil count is a novel biomarker for risk stratification of CAD patients at increased risk of adverse outcomes."
It's not quite clear why there is this increased risk, but it could be because eosinophils go to where the stent widens the blood vessel and help the formation of blood clots. Knowing more about this process could lead to markers that detect those patients most at risk, indicating that further treatment is needed, or could identify targets for developing new drugs and coatings for stents.